Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How It Should Be (UPDATED)

Several readers have called my attention to this story of a Boston church that is considering "deaccessioning" a 17th century book of psalms that could be worth $20 million.  The sales proceeds would be used not to acquire other psalm books (which would satisfy the Deaccession Police, were the church a member of the AAMD), but for general operating expenses.

What strikes me about the story is that this is how the debate about these things should go.

The people in favor of the sale make the case for why it's a good idea ("We want to take this old hymn book, from which we literally sang our praises to God, and convert it . . . into doing God’s ministry in the world today").

The people who oppose the sale make the opposite case ("Critics say they intend to argue that there is nothing so urgent, so dire, that requires the sale of precious assets").

Neither side gets to appeal to a conversation-stopping "ethical" principle that resolves the debate in their favor.  Nobody gets to impose sanctions on anyone.

It's refreshing.

UPDATE:  Apparently the debate is over; the pro-sale side won:  "After a lengthy and open debate, the congregation spoke with nearly one voice: 271 members voted in favor of the sale, and only 34 opposed it."  Compare and contrast to another instance where the members spoke with nearly one voice.